Beauty

This AI Tool Uses Photos of Your Hair To Provide Personalized Haircare Recommendations

Meet Myavana.

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This AI Tool Uses Photos of Your Hair To Provide Personalized Haircare Recommendations

Meet Myavana.

Imagine strolling through Ulta, opening an app on your phone, being prompted to snap a photo of your hair and within minutes having a curated list of product recommendations based on an analysis of your hair. This is the future of haircare, education and convenience with Myavana, an AI-generated platform created by computer scientist Candace Mitchell.

The software, which is 11 years in the making, aims to take the guesswork out of caring for natural hair by curating a detailed profile of your hair’s condition, needs, tips and recommendations. The company originally started out collecting hair strand samples from consumers via a hair analysis kit that required combing shed hair into an envelope and mailing it to Myavana’s lab for examination. Now, Mitchell and her team are creating an instant access hub to educate consumers, retailers and brands about the program’s expansive 972 natural hair IDs.

Below, Mitchell details the meaning behind the brand’s name, how the company’s AI technology works, her view on the future of the haircare industry and more.

For more beauty news, check out our coverage of Eimear Lynch’s photo book that captures the nostalgic beauty of teen girlhood.

On the meaning behind the company’s name

“Myavana” is a word that we came up with. It means “my nirvana” or “hair nirvana,” which is being in the perfect place of peace and happiness with your hair. It’s the state of Nirvana where you love your hair, you love yourself and you’re feeling great. Ultimately, that’s the destination that we’re guiding people to. We created our own word just to be able to trademark and own it.

On the “why” behind creating Myavana

I was at a turning point in my natural hair journey. I didn’t know what products to use and I was just like, “There’s a better way to do this.” That’s when I came up with the idea for Myavana. I wanted an app that could tell me which products were best for my hair. That was my train of thought as a computer scientist.

I was taking programming classes at the time and studying database structures and I wanted to create a hair product database. I was trying to find my passion and my lane in tech. I was passionate that Myavana needed to exist to transform people’s hair and their hair journeys.

On how the AI technology works

Our first product was a physical hair analysis kit. You’d have to comb your clean hair and send a few strands to our lab to get your assessment and product recommendations. Now, we’ve transitioned into AI to automate this process, because we once had over 100 kits in the backlog. It wasn’t scalable and we needed a way to assess the hair faster.

I used my tech background to train a system to learn hair strand images so it could identify different textures, types, and conditions. That system then allowed us to launch Hair AI, in which a photo of your hair can be analyzed to get product recommendations.

This is all software-based and you need to subscribe to it and create a profile. Consumers, businesses and professionals can subscribe to Myavana to have access to the data. We’re capturing it from the pictures of your hair that you upload throughout the week, because you’re telling Mayavana how a style turned out, what your needs are and more. That’s information these companies need, because ultimately they’re making the products for your hair.

On working with haircare brands

We get to hear what the top goals are for brands and our work typically falls under their research and development or marketing teams. This means brands want to leverage Myavana’s data to develop and improve their products or they want to use Myavana for more targeted marketing.

With our new Hair AI, we’ve identified over 972 hair ID profiles, which expands from the 12 in the current hair typing system. It’s a much more inclusive range than 4C and 2A, which are only a portion of the picture when it comes to your hair.

We’re shifting the hair typing system from 2D to 3D. 2D is just texture and type; 3D is the hair ID, which includes texture, type and condition. It’s the condition of your hair that affects product performance. Currently, we say, “I have coily or kinky hair, so I should use this.” There are so many other things at play, so being able to share that data with brands has been very insightful for product development and expansion.

On Myavana’s Ulta partnership

Ulta’s innovation team discovered the brand at the CES trade show while scouting and looking for tools to make their shopping experiences better. 

I’ve been forming a pipeline of retailers that I want to work with, because I want to position Myavana to be integrated across the entire retail channels. So, when you’re shopping for products you can take a photo of your hair and get recommended products that are catered to your journey right in the store. You’ll no longer have to go searching up and down the aisles. 

Ulta was the first demonstration of that because it integrated our Hair AI technology on its website. It also made a strategic investment in the company because they believe in our growth. As part of our partnership, we meet with their innovation team regularly and we have a roadmap that we’re working on together. 

On what’s next

We view growth through community building and have started our “Taste of Texture” hair parties. They’re the black hair version of Mary Kay parties. There’s a communal element to hair and we want to create safe spaces to celebrate, vibe and connect.There are a lot of community partnerships that we’re going to roll out as a way to reach our market in a meaningful way. We’re also developing a hairscope to be able to do hair analysis in salon settings.

Myavana is a very mission-driven company. Not only are we transforming the hair industry, but I’m very intentional about the wealth-building potential of it. We’re transforming this industry to generate wealth that really belongs to Black people. We’re spending all the money, but we’re not in positions of ownership. We need a seat at those tech tables and we need a piece of the wealth from the tech sector.

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